The holidays are almost upon us and we all know what that means, right? Traffic! Shopping for presents and other holiday-related whatnot! More traffic! Christmas parties and family reunions! Even more traffic! Food galore and Christmas carols! (And did we mention the traffic?!)
Kidding aside, everyone knows that the holiday season is a time for joy and celebration – but many times, it also becomes a source of stress and tension, especially among family members.
Does it have to be so though?
The answer is no. We can actually avoid stress during the holidays and truly enjoy every bit of it! Here are five suggestions that we hope can make this possible for you, based on the acronym R.E.L.A.X.:
Remember what the holidays are all about.
Don’t forget “the Reason for the season”, i.e. Christmas. If you’re a Christian (and yes, all Catholics are Christians, too!), you’d know that Jesus is the main reason for the holiday season. It is His birthday we are celebrating, after all. Don’t let the busyness of the “holiday rush” make you lose focus.
Instead, spend some time every day leading to Christmas Day in silence – even just a few minutes will do. Think about the true meaning of Christmas, and teach your family members to do the same, too. If it helps, post different images of the Nativity or the Baby Jesus around your home to help you remember the essence of the holidays.
Exemplify giving and sharing.
Christmas is a special time to model giving and sharing to others, especially to the people in our own family. Focusing on others instead of ourselves gives us more opportunities to remember the “essentials” in life, and how we can bless others.
When we are preoccupied with sharing of ourselves and what we have, there is a tendency to be less stressed. We learn to be more grateful for what we already have, and not be focused on what we can get or receive from others.
Look around you.
Sometimes we find ourselves so overwhelmed by all the glitzy and shiny holiday decorations around us that we lose sight of what is truly important.
Take time this holiday season to really look and observe the things around you. The beautiful Christmas lights that remind us of the star that shone over the manger where Jesus was born. The gifts that remind us of the best gift we could ever receive – Jesus. The family and friends who are our greatest blessings in life.
See Christmas through the eyes of a child, and allow yourself to be wrapped in the wonder of Christmas. Be grateful for everything you have.
Avoid the holiday crowds and traffic.
On a more practical note, if you find yourself getting stressed out at the thought of Christmas shopping and being stuck in holiday traffic, find out how you can simplify your purchasing process.
Maybe you can consider online shopping or buying presents from stores in your neighborhood. Make a list of all the holiday parties and gatherings you have been invited to and maybe choose only those you really need or want to attend. (It’s OK to say “no” to people, you know!)
This may be a silly suggestion to some, but you’d be surprised at how many of us actually find ourselves super stressed out and breathless during the holidays. When you start feeling so, stop and take deep breaths.
According to the American Institute of Stress, focused breathing actually helps evoke our body’s “relaxation response.” (Check out this link online for more details, plus helpful breathing techniques.)
So, there you have it: just some ways to help avoid stress during the holidays – or at least decrease it somehow. May we always remember that as long as we are able to make meaningful memories with our loved ones, the holidays will be a memorable time for all!
*This article was originally written for the monthly e-newsletter of Family Reborn, a special membership club that helps families build stronger relationships. It has been edited for the purposes of this site and is used with permission.
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